Ashley Barnes‘ (£6.6m) purple patch of Fantasy form continued at Molineux on Sunday as the Burnley striker scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season.
There were concerns for owners of Wolves’ assets, however, as we will discuss in our final Scout Notes of Gameweek 4.
Burnley 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Ashley Barnes (£6.6m) | Raul Jimenez (£7.4m)
- Assists: Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) | None
The first signs that Europa League involvement may adversely affect Wolves’ Fantasy assets were perhaps in evidence at Molineux on Sunday.
This was only one match, of course, and credit should be given to a Burnley side who have looked in fine form in the opening few Gameweeks of the new campaign.
The Clarets know all about the impact of European club competition, having lost all four of their Premier League matches around their Europa League ties at the start of 2018/19.
Wolves had performed well against Leicester City in Gameweek 1 and, perhaps to a lesser extent, played their part in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United last Monday.
Both of those games came off the back of comfortable wins over FC Pyunik, however, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side coasting to successive 4-0 wins against the Armenian minnows.
Santo had indeed made nine changes to his Europa League side ahead of the United game, so fatigue wasn’t the factor it could have been against the Red Devils.
Sunday’s match against Burnley came less than 72 hours after a hard-fought 3-2 win over Torino, however, with seven first-choice Wolves players having started in Italy.
Leander Dendoncker (£4.5m) paid the price for his involvement in Turin by being benched for only the second time in the league since Gameweek 21 of last season, with Morgan Gibbs-White (£5.0m) taking his place in an otherwise full-strength Wolves team.
While the stats will show that Wolves had 17 attempts on goal, their only shot on target from inside the Burnley area was Raul Jimenez‘s (£7.4m) successful stoppage-time penalty – although it should be said that the Mexican striker also clipped the post shortly beforehand with a trademark shot on the turn.
Jimenez’s first touch had deserted him early on, while Diogo Jota (£6.4m) – so often the driving force behind Wolves’ forays forward – was unable to get much change out of Burnley’s resolute backline and all three of his goal attempts were blocked.
The hosts, indeed, had only one effort from inside the Burnley box in the opening 45 minutes and didn’t force Nick Pope (£4.5m) into a save until the 86th minute.
Even at the back, there were problems.
Willy Boly (£5.0m) and co. had looked mightily impressive at the King Power Stadium in Gameweek 1 but Wolves’ three centre-halves were caused plenty of problems by Burnley’s front two on Sunday and the Clarets could easily have added to the goal Ashley Barnes (£6.6m) scored after just 12 minutes.
While fatigue is perhaps less of a debilitating problem in August than it will be later in the season, Europa League involvement does eat into the preparation time that Santo has with his team before Premier League fixtures – the Wolves squad having only got back to the UK on Friday morning after readying themselves for the Torino match in the early part of the week.
Santo said after the game:
It’s tough, but we got the reaction today, a good reaction, the fans felt that the boys gave everything they had.
It’s a tough cycle – we have to go again Thursday. We have to recover and go again, but we embrace everything, but the performance, of course, was not the best one.
The boys worked very hard. The way the boys fought, the way the boys gave everything they had, the patience that they had, when they are tired the best decisions are always difficult to make, but it’s something that we have to improve on – playing with tiredness and managing the game.
We are very aware of the cycle of games that we have and the things that we’ve been doing. For us, we started competing on 25th July, so we’ve had a lot to deal with, but it’s about how we want to do things and using all the resources that we have, all the options, trying to manage the squad.
Matt Doherty (£6.0m) returned from the illness that had forced his withdrawal against Manchester United and no-show in the Torino game but this was another display short on productivity and energy from the Ireland international.
Adama Traore (£5.0m) again replaced Doherty in the second half and, after excellent showings against United and Torino, once more had a positive impact at wing-back.
Despite concerns about the former Middlesbrough man’s defensive aptitude, the clamour for Traore to replace Doherty at wing-back has been steadily growing over the last week – particularly as the Irishman himself has looked short of match-fitness following his disrupted pre-season.
Doherty said after full-time:
I’m about to fall over! I’m pretty tired, I don’t know about anyone else. I don’t feel 100 per cent yet to be honest. I missed all of pre-season pretty much and have come straight back into games.
I feel a bit behind still. The only way I’ll get to where I need to be is keep training and trying to play well. I didn’t feel well at all for a few days and it hit me just before the Manchester United game and during the game. but it wasn’t anything to do with my knee, it was fine.
Dyche felt rightly aggrieved not to have taken all three points but this was another positive performance from Burnley, with the Clarets looking ever-more appealing from a Fantasy perspective ahead of their favourable run of fixtures from Gameweeks 5-14.
The Burnley boss said:
On reflection, it could easily have been all three points. It was a very good performance and we opened them up enough times in the first half to be more than one goal up. I don’t think anyone could have argued if we’d been two or three up at the break.
We expected a reaction after half-time, of course, but I thought we calmed the game down before we just got a little bit camped in for the last 10 or 15 minutes.
We had two or three counters in the second half though that we should have done better with and just couldn’t find that moment to seal the game.
Barnes and Chris Wood (£6.3m) were more than a match for Wolves’ back three and should have put the game to bed between them, with more than half of Burnley’s attempts on goal coming from the strike pair.
The in-form Barnes had opened the scoring with perhaps his most difficult chance, rifling in a superb half-volley from 25 yards following Dwight McNeil‘s (£6.0m) headed pass.
The mid-price FPL forward, now the second-highest-scoring Fantasy player in his position, had earlier curled narrowly wide from the edge of the Wolves box and perhaps should have doubled his tally when side-footing wide from six yards just after the interval.
Wood, whose physical presence was an important factor in Burnley’s opener, also had opportunities to open his account for the 2019/20 campaign.
The New Zealand international couldn’t turn home the rebound when Bee Mee‘s (£5.0m) 16th-minute header had looped agonisingly off the bar and had a gilt-edged opportunity a quarter of an hour later when being denied by Rui Patricio (£5.0m).
A goal is surely imminent for Wood; it was only a month ago that we were singing the praises of the Kiwi striker after he plundered nine goals in pre-season.
Barnes, who hadn’t found the back of the net once this summer, is very much the man in form and he will likely see a further price rise between now and the international break.
On his strike pairing, Dyche said:
Woody hasn’t nicked a goal but he has worked hard for the team and he was awkward, he ran hard he stretched the pitch and asked the questions.
I have always thought: play to the strengths of the people you are working with and I attempt to do that.
I think we have Jay Rod and Vyds who haven’t had as much football but are active.
If you can, I like two strikers. We have mixed it up with Jeff Hendrick playing as a 10 and we have had some success with that.
But I like to affect the opposition’s back four and as a defender, there is a better chance of affecting it if you have two strikers.
Today they were very effective, particularly the first 75 minutes of the game. In the last bit they have got hold of the game a little bit and we are trying to see it through. The front two are a real handful.
McNeil and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£6.0m) kept Wolves’ wing-backs in check, while Jack Cork (£5.0m) and Ashley Westwood (£5.4m) were excellent in central midfield as they protected the Clarets’ back four.
Perhaps the stand-out performers were Mee and James Tarkowski (£5.0m), however, who are looking back to their best after the struggles of early last season.
With Burnley’s defence looking more solid and the two centre-halves posing a threat at the other end of the pitch, Mee and Tarkowski are noteworthy differentials for Gameweek 5 onwards – even if their FPL prices are a little off-putting.
On the injury front, Gudmundsson limped off in the second half with a calf problem.
Dyche said the issue wasn’t serious but Gudmundsson will miss the EFL Cup match against Sunderland in midweek and is set for a scan on his injury.
Jimenez’s penalty, meanwhile, presumably means that Ruben Neves (£5.5m) will be up next for Wolves from 12 yards, with the pair having alternated spot-kicks over the last year.
Wolves XI (3-5-2): Patricio, Bennett, Coady Boly, Doherty (Traore 77′), Neves, Moutinho (Dendoncker 59′), Gibbs-White (Neto 65′), Jonny, Jota, Jimenez.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Gudmundsson (Lennon 75), Cork, Westwood, McNeil (Hendrick 86′), Barnes (Rodriguez 78′), Wood.
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